Last updated: 28/10/20
University. One of the best times of your life. Full of new people, new places, new studies. Parties, late nights and early mornings.
Needless to say, all of these things looked very different this year. And although most students have done their best to make the most of the new socially distanced university experience, we know that it’s hard to not wonder what life would’ve been like in a covid-free freshers’.
We recently wrote about the negative press students were receiving as a result of the spike in covid cases throughout university hotspots during September. In case you missed it, we think this press is unfair, unwarranted and we provided a few tips for supporting students who may be experiencing blame culture.
In addition (and staying on the theme of mental health), some recent research we undertook showed that 70% of students are actively worried about the pandemic affecting their academic studies. 70%! As a result, we wanted to stick around and provide some support for getting through your socially distanced uni experience and help you cope. Here are a few tips for coping with life at university during covid.
Life at university: Tips for coping during covid
1. Be as social(ly distanced) as possible
Whether you’re a bit of an introvert, or are anxious about your studies, it can sometimes be easy to shy away from your housemates and confine yourself to your room. But with most social activities being really limited this year, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time with the people you live and may find yourself having to make the most of your situation. Having people to talk to through this time is really important, which is why it’s a good idea to make an effort to get to know the people you live with even more so this year.
You could organise group meals, film nights or even just ask your house mates if they’d like a cuppa. After all, everyone needs support through this pandemic, and you may end up helping them out, as well as creating a support network for yourself.
2. Keep in touch with your family and home friends
Sometimes, as great as uni life may be, you don’t realise how much you miss your home life. Make an effort to regularly check in with your family and home friends. They can make for an amazing tonic if things are getting a little too much at uni… and they’re probably missing you a lot!
3. Let your friends know you’re there for them
Whilst you should be your number one priority right now, it can be a nice idea to let your friends know you’re there for them should they need a chat. Everyone copes differently, but knowing that you have someone to speak to should you need to, can make a big difference. You can be there for them and chances are, they’ll return the offer too. Before you know it, you’ve got a strong support network set up with a bunch of your friends and housemates.
4. Try and see people face to face
And we don’t necessarily mean in person! Whether you’re doing online webinars or are catching up with mates, don’t be afraid to switch your camera on. Seeing people’s faces can really help you feel more connected to people and can help you get to know who your course mates are before meeting them in person!
5. Be open and honest with yourself and others
It’s never good to keep your feelings bottled up, so if you’re having a bad day or are feeling a bit low, talk about it. Being open about how you’re feeling is really important - more so now than ever before. You can make sure you get the support you need by talking about how you feel and dealing with those feelings.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Throughout the pandemic, over two thirds of young people said that their mental health has worsened through lockdown. Following on from this, one in four young people didn’t reach out for support because they didn’t feel like they deserved it. Combine this with our recent research that showed that 78% of students are concerned about studying at uni during this time, and this could make for a stressful university experience.
We’re here to tell you that if you’re struggling, you are both entitled to and worthy of reaching out for support. Whilst waiting times may be a bit longer at the moment, you should feel no shame in contacting your GP and asking for help (make sure you register with your GP as soon as you get chance). Otherwise, there are charities such as MIND that you can contact for support and advice. And in the meantime, check out these coping strategies you can work through at home or take a look at what mindfulness apps you can use to help manage your mental health.
7. Get into a routine
When you’re working from home, it can be so easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut. Creating a new routine will really help. Things like making an effort to do little things like get up an hour before your online lecture starts, get out of your pyjamas and into comfy clothes, make a to-do list and so on. Read more about how to get into a university routine in lockdown here.
8. Be organised
Need to post your Dad’s birthday card? Working to a deadline? Keen to get to the supermarket just in time for the reduced food? Being organised can make a big difference to your day. Invest in a notepad just for making daily checklists to make sure you’re getting stuff done.
9. Plan out your study schedule
With the revelation that 70% of students are worrying about covid affecting their academic work, and assignment/exam deadlines having a tendency of sneaking up on you, the key to good management is a strong study schedule. Take a look at what you’ve got coming up, map out your deadlines, plan out your study schedule and don’t forget to leave some time for relaxation, self-care and study breaks too!
10. Plan and stick to your budget
When you’ve not got many plans, boredom can hit quite easily. And what’s quite common as a result of boredom? Online shopping. Making sure you have a clear view of your income and outgoings will let you know exactly what you’ve got left over to spend, so you don’t go a bit crazy on ASOS and leave yourself short for the month. Check out our tips for living on a student budget here.
11. Look after your gadgets
Most of us are relying on our gadgets right now. Whether it’s staying connecting with friends via social media, or attending online lectures, make sure you take good care of your gadgets so you’re never without them. Check out these tips for looking after your laptop, keep your phone as clean as possible to try and limit the spread of covid and also make sure you have student gadget insurance in place so that if anything does happen to them, you’re covered.
12. Keep your space tidy
As they say, tidy home, tidy mind. Keeping your work space clutter-free can really help to allow you to focus purely on work. Plus, if you make an effort to tidy up as you go along, you won’t need to spend your free time tidying!
13. Utilise positive online forums to make friends
Whether you’re not getting on with the people you live with, or just want to make some new online friends, online forums can be great places to get involved in new communities. You could even speak with your student union to see if they have any online forums where you can meet more people at your uni.
14. Deal with situations rationally
If you’re not feeling great, it can be easy to become irrational. But it’s always a good idea to wait until you’re feeling a bit better before making any big decisions. For example, if you have a disagreement with a housemate, it may feel isolating and you might feel the urge to pack your bags and head home for a while. But taking some time to be mindful, talk it out with some trusted friends and sleep on it, will hopefully allow you to think more rationally.
15. Remember that things always get better
If you are feeling particularly low, remember that things will get better. Things won’t always be as bad as they may seem now. Whilst you’re feeling a bit rubbish, help yourself out by not giving yourself a hard time, invest in some self-care and spend time doing things or talking to people that make you happy. Tomorrow is a new day.
How to achieve a work life balance in student life
The key to achieving a work life balance as a student is organisation. Your free time is only as relaxing as your study time is productive. Taking the time to map your deadlines out at the start of term will give you the opportunity to plan your studies in the lead up to those deadlines. You’ll know how much you can handle, so you’re the best person to plan out how you’ll be spending your time. Make sure to free-up time for rest days and social activities (where possible). And try not to do too much studying without having a break to maintain that all important work life balance.
How to save money in student life
As a student, budgeting is probably one of the most important life skills you’ll learn at uni. Getting a clear picture of your income vs your outgoings will let you see what you have leftover, so you can set aside money for food, social activities and saving! Check out 25 ways students can earn (and save) money here.
How to be successful in life as a student
We think the key to being successful in life a student is balance. Being a student is a rollercoaster experience. One week you’re head-down in your studies, working towards a deadline. The next, you’re having Netflix marathons, pulling all-nighters with your house mates to finish your new favourite series. And that’s okay. That’s what uni is all about.
Over time, you’ll build upon vital life skills that will continue to help you learn and be successful as a student. Skills like being organised, learning how to budget and juggle your to-do list to maintain the perfect work life balance. With all of these learnings, as well as working hard to be yourself throughout it all, you’ll be well on your way to student life success.